Manitoban family asked to cover the cost of repatriating the body of a deceased woman after being transferred to hospital

A Manitoban is angry with the province after being told she should cover the costs of transferring the body of her late mother, who died after being moved from her home community to free a hospital bed for someone else.

Patricia Fosty had to scramble on New Years Day when her 84-year-old mother, Irma Rougeau, died at Morris General Hospital, about 50 kilometers south of Winnipeg – and she was told it was hers to bring her mother home to Winnipeg. .

“I don’t think the government should only pay if you make it out alive,” she said incredulously.

“You transferred her out of her region. Why should we be subject to this? “

The person on the phone apologized, Fosty recalls.

“Those poor nurses are going, ‘I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to pay.’ They felt horrible about it, ”said Fosty, who lives in Zhoda, in southeastern Manitoba.

She says she remained calm at the time, “but, I mean, I could have screamed with my eyes, unable to think clearly – and I probably would have accepted anything then because that we are talking about my mother’s body and her care. “

Shared Health, which oversees the delivery of health care in the province, apologizes and says Fosty was misinformed.

Its policy is to have the transfer fee covered by the healthcare facility, which usually happens after a funeral home identified by the family takes care of transportation, according to Shared Health.

Shared Health said it was a mistake to ask Rougeau’s family to cover the costs of repatriating his remains from a hospital in Morris. (Submitted by Patricia Fosty)

Patient transfers are occurring more frequently in Manitoba as healthcare facilities make room for the growing number of COVID-19 patients.

Shared Health says that since October it has transferred 159 people from one regional health authority to another, including 12 patients in the past week.

The family will be reimbursed: Shared health

Each patient who is eligible for transfer receives a note stating that “transportation between facilities will not incur any personal cost to you.”

It says a transferred patient, once it is safe to exit, will be informed of their options and will have “appropriate resources to support a safe transition.” The document does not say what happens if a patient dies.

Shared Health said staff at a health facility where the remains are located will typically work with a funeral home identified by the family to arrange transportation, with the invoice being sent to the facility for payment. (Travis Golby / CBC)

After Rogueau’s death, a decision had to be made quickly because Morris Hospital could not keep his remains.

A Winnipeg funeral home said he could bring Rougeau home, but it would cost Fosty more than their prior agreement, as the trip to retrieve his body would be longer than expected.

The house decided on its own to waive the additional costs.

“The funeral home, I’m very happy to say, behaved ethically,” said Fosty.

She doesn’t feel the same about Shared Health or the provincial government.

In a statement, Shared Health offered its condolences to Fosty for his loss, “as well as our sympathies for the added stress this unfortunate incident has caused them.”

A spokesperson for Shared Health later confirmed that an official spoke with the family on Thursday, after Fosty spoke to CBC News. The health organization now offers to reimburse it.

But Fosty says she chose to speak out because she doesn’t want other grieving families to be under the same stress as her family.

She also approached the NPD opposition with her story, after she failed to get a response from the government.

NDP leader Wab Kinew said the fact that the family was left to fend for themselves hours after the death of a loved one shows “cruel indifference on the part of the government”.

“Seeing how this family has been touched not only by the loss of a loved one, but also by having to face additional challenges, I think it really highlights the lack of dignity and lack of humanity of this patient transfer policy, ”he said. noted.

Long-time advocate for the elderly, Trish Rawsthorne said hospital transfers have been devastating for families and people’s mental health.

“As a family member, I would be really, really upset.”

Stripped of a “sweeter passage”

Fosty is also frustrated with the events leading up to her mother’s transfer to Morris on December 1.

She was initially told that she could refuse her mother’s transfer, but was later told that this would happen regardless of her will, unless she released her mother from Seven General Hospital. Winnipeg Oaks within 18 hours.

Fosty says if she had been given a few days’ notice of the transfer, she would have made arrangements for private home care instead. Her mother had a number of health issues and her condition has deteriorated over the past few weeks, she says.

Recent experiences have distracted attention from the many pleasant memories she has of her mother, who loved music, art and being with her family, Fosty said.

“In her final moments, we don’t even have the chance to improve her by not letting her transfer [hospitals], maybe getting her to heal where her family and friends could have been and support her, ”Fosty said, fighting back tears.

“I don’t blame myself, but it would have been nice to make it easier for him and, therefore, for us.

“But we were robbed. We were denied an opportunity to give him a sweeter death and a sweeter end of life.”

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